Tag Archives: aging

Wine Around the World 2016: Slovenia

This series of blog posts by author Patti Digh will focus on issues of aging in the countries whose wines we will taste at our Wine Around the World event on October 6, 2016. There are a limited number of tickets left. Don’t miss this unforgettable event! Purchase online or stop by our office at 105 King Creek Blvd, Hendersonville, NC.

SLOVENIA’S RAPIDLY AGING POPULATION IS DRIVING INTERGENERATIONAL INNOVATION

waw-slovenia

by Patti Digh

In Slovenia, aging-related expenses as a share of GDP will increase from 24.7% in 2013 to 31.5% in 2060. Out of 100 working age people in Slovenia, 27 were over 65 at the start of 2013, a number that will double to 58 in 2060, according to a recent report. The proportion of the population over 85 is also projected to surge from 2% at the moment to 7% in 2060.

In addition to the systemic reforms obviously needed to finance this rapidly aging population, Slovenia is looking at innovative ways to unite old and young people, using institutions familiar with the needs and abilities of both groups. They aim to tackle the stereotypes young and old people tend to have about each other.

The “Fruits of Society” house is the first example of an intergenerational centre in Slovenia, bringing together young and old in the Pomurje region. The project’s aim is to ensure additional help for the elderly by young people and, at the same time, help youth acquire new knowledge. Activities mainly revolve around socializing, joint projects, and promotion of a healthy lifestyle and voluntary work. The idea is to create a forum where ideas can be exchanged on how to deepen and extend intergenerational voluntary cooperation to other activities.

Traditionally, the elderly in Slovenia have been taken care of by their family members. Those who did not have any relatives were partially taken care of by a local community. However, a recent Slovenian study showed that three quarters of people would choose to go to a nursing home and less than one fifth (17%) would choose to live with one of their children because they don’t want to be a burden. Even so, the willingness of family to care for their elders is very high. Almost two-fifths of Slovenes see the solution as family care and co-living with disabled and elderly family members. Half of the respondents said that for them personally, caring for old people is one of the main tasks of the family. The biggest problem is not the willingness to care but rather the ability to care. Family care is less available due to the lack of support services rather than unwillingness to care.

The first need they have is common to all Slovenian family caregivers – the need for “respite care services” (47.1%) that are very scarce (almost nonexistent) in Slovenia. Two fifths of family caregivers wish to have “more frequent visits from a district nurse” and “larger accessibility of home help services.” The fourth and fifth most expressed things they miss are the “support from their relatives” and “the life they lived before taking over the caring responsibilities.” The needs of family carers reflect the real situation regarding family care of older people in Slovenia.

Currently there are only a few services intended for family caregivers and they are not provided on a national level. For example, there is no place that provides information, practical training in caregiving, and other support to family caregivers on the national level. Family caregivers urgently need broader community support and professional assistance in the form of home care and support, institutional day care, respite care services, needs assessment, counseling and advice, self-support groups, practical training in caring and protecting their own physical and mental health, weekend breaks, integrated planning of care for elderly and families, and so on.

Through one national program, family members are trained via short courses for better understanding and communicating with older family members, or about quality aging after retirement, in which the elderly are taught how to recognize and accept old age, practice active aging, and have quality relations with the younger generations.

Family members who have an elder in an institution learn to communicate well during their visits and to collaborate well with the residential care provider. Relatives’ clubs are being established inside nursing homes. The underlying principle is that one hour weekly of quality personal contact with an old person is an excellent opportunity for personal growth, and a good way to learn about intergenerational communication and prepare for one’s own old age.

Wine Around the World 2016: Portugal

This series of blog posts by author Patti Digh will focus on issues of aging in the countries whose wines we will taste at our Wine Around the World event on October 6, 2016. There are a limited number of tickets left. Don’t miss this unforgettable event! Purchase online or stop by our office at 105 King Creek Blvd, Hendersonville, NC.

PORTUGAL’S PERFECT STORM

waw-portugal

by Patti Digh

Between 1960 and 2012, the young population of Portugal greatly decreased and the number of elderly citizens greatly increased, changing significantly the population dynamics in that European nation. Why? Because of sharp fertility rate declines (they have the lowest fertility rate in Europe), the increase of life expectancy, and increased emigration in recent years, caused by unemployment and the economic crisis there. Over one-third of people under 25 in Portugal are unemployed and cannot find jobs in their own country, so they are leaving and Portugal is fast-becoming a nation of one-child families.

Under the current poor economic conditions in Portugal, the Portuguese population is going to continue to decrease, and the aging of the population that remains will likely result in the unsustainability of the country. For the elderly living in small families without children or a spouse, greater support from the community and local health services will be required, a situation that becomes even more acute in periods of economic depression. It is a perfect storm.

As reported in The Guardian, the recent fall in births across Portugal – to 89,841 babies in 2012, a 14% drop since 2008 and a 56% drop since 1960 – has been so acute that the government is closing a number of maternity wards nationwide. In an increasingly childless country, 239 schools are closing this year and sales of everything from diapers to children’s shampoos are plummeting. At the same time, in the fast-greying interior, petrol stations and motels are being converted into nursing homes.

Portugal is at the forefront of Europe’s latest baby bust, facing greatly increased social costs in some of the world’s most rapidly aging societies. By 2030 the retired population in Portugal will surge by 27.4%, with those older than 65 then predicted to make up nearly one in every four residents. With fewer and fewer future workers and taxpayers being born, the Portuguese are confronting what could be a real financial difficulty in providing for their aging population.

Experts predict that the population loss ahead for Portugal could be beyond even the worst-case predictions of nearly 1 million fewer inhabitants – or almost 10% of the current population of 10.56 million – by 2030. It has many bemoaning the “disappearance” of a nation, leaving them to ask: Who will be left to support a dying country of old men and women?

“This is one of the biggest problems we face as a nation,” said Jose Tavares, political economics professor at the Nova School of Business and Economics in Lisbon. “If we don’t find a way to fix this, we will be facing a disaster.”

The burdens ahead are also clear in communities across Portugal, where elder care is the largest single public expenditure. Recent national cuts have meant a reduction in the number of seniors towns are able to aid in their main adult day-care facilities.

To breathe new life into some areas, officials have sought to lure young people back, offering cash subsidies for new homebuyers in an attempt to stem years of losses of working-age residents to inland cities and more prosperous countries. Some towns are providing preschool for next to nothing, with children being minded in nursing homes, which thrills the residents. One clothing maker in central Portugal has started paying its workers a bonus for having babies, and towns are following suit.